Hostages‘ Dylan McDermott is set as the male lead in another CBS/Warner Bros TV drama project, the untitled Kevin Williamson pilot. The casting cements the fate of serialized thriller Hostages, which was not expected to continue beyond the initial …
The rosy prediction reflects growing strength in the economy, and in the performance of the broadcast TV networks, CBS Chief Research Officer David Poltrack told investors today at the UBS Global Media and Communications Conference. He says that the growth figure would remain strong, at +4%, if you factored out the expected ad sales boost from the Winter Olympics. Don’t be too quick to scoff that Poltrack’s forecast may be colored by a conflict of interest: He’s had a pretty good track record in recent years, which is why so many people in the industry track his annual UBS presentation. He was right about on target last year when he predicted that network ad revenues this year would drop 2%, reflecting a 3% underlying growth rate when you factor out the 2012 Olympics and election. Economists “are encouraged by recent trends in the housing market as well as gains in private sector employment,” he says. “They see a continuing, but somewhat plodding, recovery.” But Poltrack is enthusiastic about the broadcast business — suggesting that this season may mark a transition to a period where networks will benefit from increased on-demand viewing, and excitement from people who use Twitter and other social media to chat with fellow fans. Last year “I concluded my presentation by posing the question, ‘Are we entering a new golden era for broadcast network television?’” Poltrack says. “Today I am going to try and convince you that the time may have come to drop the question mark.”
Will Obamacare become plot fodder for CBS’ Hostages and Under The Dome? A $500,000 grant awarded this week to USC Annenberg Norman Lear Center’s Hollywood Health & Society program certainly suggests it’s a possibility. In the latest push to get Tinseltown to promote President Obama’s Affordable Care Act, the decade-old program has received the money from the private California Endowment to give Hollywood producers, writers and execs details about the newly launched health insurance initiative. “Our experience has shown that the public gets just as much, if not more, information about current events and important issues from their favorite television shows and characters as they do from the news media and online resources,” said Hollywood Health & Society’s Martin Kaplan in a statement today. “This grant will allow us to ensure that industry practitioners have up-to-date, relevant facts on health care reform to integrate into their storylines and projects.” Hostages’ co-EP Jennifer Cecil sits on Hollywood Health & Society’s Advisory Board as does Under The Dome EP Neal Baer. So does Breaking Bad creator Vince Gilligan and Disney Junior’s Doc McStuffins EP Chris Nee among others. The grant comes just over a week after Jennifer Hudson appeared in a pro-Obamacare Scandal parody video produced by Will Ferrell’s Funny Or Die.
Joanne Kelly, who is finishing a five-year run on Syfy’s top-rated drama Warehouse 13, has been tapped for a major recurring role on the new CBS drama Hostages. She plays Vanessa, an ambitious ambassador and the sister of the First Lady of the United States (Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio). Kelly is with Domain and Joannie Burstein.
Heroes alum Jack Coleman has been cast in a multi-episode arc on ABC’s Scandal. Per Shonda Rhimes’ gag order, little is known about his character Daniel Douglas, who is a charming Southerner with ties to one of the gladiators. He’s repped by Domain and Framework.
The first new fall series, Fox’s Sleepy Hollow, premieres tonight, marking the unofficial start of the 2013-14 broadcast season. A slew of new shows and a legion of returning ones will unspool over the next couple of months. In the past, that would mean a bloody skirmish in every time slot, with one show coming out victorious and the rest in moderate or grave danger. Now with DVR and online viewing, several shows airing in the same time period can be popular. But will they all be successful? That is probably the biggest question facing the networks — how to translate eyeballs on different platforms into ratings and money from advertisers. While ad rates now are determined by C3 ratings that include playback (plus commercials) in the first three days after the premiere airing and the networks universally use Live+7 as ratings currency, Fox’s Kevin Reilly recently made a case for expanding the rating measurements to Live+30 and beyond and for including online viewing. In line with that, Fox this fall is introducing DVR and multi-platform lift projections for its shows. Meanwhile, CBS’ Leslie Moonves and David Poltrack recently proclaimed the decline of the adults 18-49 demo, which has been the key metric for advertisers. All that confusion opens the door for even more spin from the networks who can declare almost any show a hit using different viewing windows and demos. Maybe Netflix’s M.O., often criticized by its competitors, not to disclose any ratings data isn’t all that bad after all. If the company considers a series successful, it renews it, if not, it’s gone.
Back to the broadcast networks, which seem to be switching identities this fall. CBS’ highest-profile new drama, Hostages, is a serialized thriller vs. a classic procedural last year (Elementary). Meanwhile, NBC, which made its biggest drama push with the heavily serialized Revolution last fall, is getting behind a procedural The Blacklist, which inherited Revolution‘s Monday 10 PM slot, this year. Multi-camera leader CBS is making a push in single-camera comedy with The Crazy Ones and We Are Men, while single-camera-centric Fox is reverting to multi-camera comedies with Dads. Here are some challenges each of the networks faces:
Global Showbiz Briefs: Channel 4 Picks Up U.S. Series; San Sebastian To Premiere ‘Young And Prodigious Mr Spivet’; More
Channel 4 Imports ‘Hostages’, ’100′, ‘Tomorrow People’, ‘S.H.I.E.L.D.’
Britain’s Channel 4 has acquired a quartet of U.S. shows that will air in early 2014, including three from Warner Bros International Television: Hostages will air on Channel 4, while The 100 and The Tomorrow People will air on sister channel E4. Also coming to Channel4 is Marvel’s Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D., the new series from Marvel Television and ABC Studios. It premieres on C4 in the fall, soon after its ABC launch in the U.S. In a new commission, C4 has ordered Making Liberty, a three-part series based around the luxe Regent Street department store. Rize USA is producing the series that focuses on the store as it preps for the Christmas season. It will air in the fall.
‘The Young And Prodigious Mr Spivet’ Premiere Will Close San Sebastian
Amélie director Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s latest film, The Young And Prodigious Mr Spivet is set to world premiere at the San Sebastian Film Festival. It will close the proceedings on September 28. Helena Bonham Carter, Judy Davis, Kyle Catlett, Callum Keith Rennie, Robert Maillet and Dominique Pinon star. Gaumont backed the 3D movie about a 12-year-old child prodigy who lives on a ranch in Montana. His great talent for cartography and inventions soon is rewarded. A scientific institute announces that he has won a prestigious award, and he sets out across the country to collect it. The Weinstein Co. acquired the pic in Cannes.
TV critics did not marvel at NBC doing a CBS-type drama, Mondays at 10 this fall in The Blacklist – they were more interested in ticking off the James Spader drama’s similarities to the feature film The Silence Of The Lambs. But today at TCA they did marvel at CBS doing a highly serialized drama you’d see on NBC, ABC or Fox in the same timeslot. Particularly because the event-drama thriller, Hostages, comes from Jerry Bruckheimer – the high priest of CBS procedural crime dramas. Hostages stars Toni Collette as a surgeon who is ordered to assassinate the President of the United States in order to save her family. Dylan McDermott stars as the chief hostage taker, who insists he has a really good reason for wanting POTUS dead.
“We’re doing 15 [episodes] and hope to get not only two seasons but a lot more. This is not a miniseries,” Bruckheimer said when one TV critic suggested it must be. “We normally like orders of 22” episodes, agreed Bruckheimer’s TV chief Jonathan Littman. “When you’re doing something that is this intense and this much of a thriller it’s hard to bring out 22 [episodes], with repeats and weeks off, and keep up the suspense….The series concept dictates [the format].”
UPDATE: I hear among the pilots remaining in serious contention are dramas Backstrom and Beverly Hills Cop and comedy Friends With Better Lives. I also gear that the serialized Hostages, which had been rumored for a midseason run, has received a 15-episode order and may air as a limited run.
PREVIOUS, 2:30 PM: CBS is going for star power — both in front and behind the camera — with its series pickups. The network has ordered projects starring Robin Williams, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Anna Faris, Allison Janney, Will Arnett, Kal Penn, Tony Shalhoub, Jerry O’Connell, Toni Collette, Dylan McDermott, Josh Holloway, and Marg Helgenberger from writers/producers Chuck Lorre, Greg Garcia, David E. Kelley and Jerry Bruckheimer.
Living up to the buzz that CBS has been higher on its comedy pilots than dramas this season, the network has picked up four new comedy series vs. two dramas. The comedies are two multi-camera — Lorre’s Mom and Garcia’s multi-camera project, now titled The Millers – and two single-camera — Kelley’s Crazy Ones starring Robin Williams and We Are Men (formerly untitled Rob Greenberg). This marks the first time in five years that CBS will have a single-camera on the air, since Worst Week in 2008. On the drama side, getting the nod are the Bruckheimer-produced conspiracy thriller Hostages and crime procedural Intelligence, which stars Holloway and Helgenberger. The big question is: where is Beverly Hills Cop? Word is CBS is not completely done yet, with 1-2 more pickups likely. For now, I’ve only heard that the Tad Quill project and Rottenberg/Zuritsky are not going forward; I’ll update with info on others.
James Naughton has been cast in Hostages, CBS‘ drama pilot from writer-director Jeffrey Nachmanoff, Jerry Bruckheimer TV and Warner Bros TV. Based on an Israeli format, the project centers on Ellen (Toni Collette), a successful surgeon who is selected to operate on the President of the United States (Naughton) and thrust into the middle of a political conspiracy when her family is taken hostage. Naughton, repped by Paradigm and Brookside Artist Management, is a theater veteran who has won Tonys for Chicago and City of Angels. He recently recurred on the CW’s Gossip Girl.
Majandra Delfino (State Of Georgia) and former Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman star Jane Seymour have been cast in ABC’s comedy pilot Keep Calm And Carry On, from writer/executive producer Andrea Abbate, 20th Century Fox TV and 21 Laps/Adelstein. The project centers on Karey, the clean-nosed black sheep in a family of petty thieves, drug addicts, and narcissists. When her brother is sent to prison, she decides to raise his kids along with her adopted black son and give them the normal lives they deserve. Delfino, repped by APA and Ziffren Brittenham, will play Kerey’s sister Penny, who seems very clueless to what is going on around her. Seymour, repped by Innovative and Thruline, will play their mother Dotty, who mainly cares about herself and disregards what her children or grandchildren want.